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10 Of The Most Fabulous Housing Designs Of 2014

From a house dangling off a cliff to an apartment designed to make friends, here are the most ingenious residential designs of the year.

Not everyone can live in a one-of-a-kind, architect-designed home, but there is no shortage of spectacular designs that make us wish we did, whether it’s a single-family house designed to almost disappear into the prairie or a high-rise apartment building designed to encourage social bonding. Thoughtfully designed with both the site and the future resident in mind, these residential projects are the antithesis of the McMansion. Here are the housing designs that most made us want to pick up and move this year.

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Topo House

This gorgeous residence burrows into the prairie grasses of Blue Mounds, Wisc., almost disappearing into the surrounding earth. Aluminum fins on the building’s skin echo the way the wind alters the appearance of crops and grasses. The design by Johnsen Schmaling Architects won several awards this year.


The Starwars House

This Star Wars-themed home, built by Korean architecture firm Moon Hoon for a young South Korean family, bears notable resemblance to Obi Wan Kenobi’s guest house. The asymmetrical architecture incorporates several Star Wars-esque styles, though on the inside, it’s as bright and modern as an Ikea catalog.

Modscape

Cliff House

If you’re looking for a hideaway worthy of a Bond villain, look no further than this concept by Australian prefab designers Modscape. Designed to dangle dramatically off the side of a cliff, the multi-story vacation home can be entered solely through the top-level carport. At the bottom level, an open deck allows you to catch the sea breeze.

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SsD Architecture

Songpa Micro-Housing

Tiny apartments are great for young, single urbanites, but a new micro-housing design in Seoul by SsD Architecture makes the idea seem more feasible long-term. The artist-focused apartment building features units that can be combined and re-tooled easily to accommodate life changes (like a breakup), and ample common spaces make 120-square-foot units feel a bit more spacious.


Tree In The House

The design of A. Masow Design Studio‘s three-story house in Kazakhstan is an Apple-store-meets-treehouse fantasy. The transparent, cylindrical home is designed around a 40-foot fir tree. Granted, it’s not exactly a private getaway, but it’s a beautiful way to commune with the forest, while still being sheltered from it.

C.F. Moller & Brut

An Apartment To Make Friends In

Large residential buildings aren’t always good for social interaction. This design for a high-rise apartment building by C.F. Møller Architects combats social isolation by grouping residents into mini-communities, with shared courtyards, plenty of balconies, and communal dining facilities.

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Courtesy Rockwell Group

The Prefab Pinwheel

This year, architect David Rockwell teamed up with a new modular housing venture called C3 Design, Inc. to design prefabricated homes for the luxury market. Inspired by the architecture Rockwell experienced growing up in Mexico, the design features four rooms surrounding a 500-square-foot courtyard, with professional-grade appliances and customizable building skins.

Rendering by RSI-STUDIO

The White Tree

Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto’s 17-story mixed-use tower in Montpellier, France, is designed to offer the best views of its surroundings, both for the residents and everyone else in the neighborhood. Inspired by the look of a tree, expansive balconies stretch out from the core of the building like a . The riverside apartment complex is due to open in 2017.


CityHome

The geniuses at the MIT Media Lab have figured out a way to make even 200 square feet feel spacious. CityHome is about the size of a closet but hides a bed, a dining room table, a kitchen surface and cooking range, plus storage space. It’s essentially a self-contained, modular micro-apartment. The apartment-in-a-box can move a few feet either way, in case you momentarily need more room near your bathroom or a little extra living room space.

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Javier de Paz Garcia

All I Own House

Custom-made wooden containers, much like the shelves of library archives, move along a railing to convert one small room into an entire house in this design by Madrid-based PKMN Architectures. The cabinets contain a bed, closet space, a kitchen table, and more. By moving the cabinets and folding out furniture, the space becomes a bedroom, a kitchen, a design studio, a dressing room, and more.

About the author

Shaunacy Ferro is a Brooklyn-based writer covering architecture, urban design and the sciences. She's on a lifelong quest for the perfect donut.

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